NBA League Preview: Southwest Division

October 3, 2012

Features, NBA


Southwest Division:

Dallas Mavericks:

Dallas seems to have not really had that great of luck in the off season, until you really sit down and take a look at this team. Losing out in the Deron Williams sweepstakes to Brooklyn started their off season out in disappointment, followed by losing Jason Kidd to New York. Just because it started negatively doesn’t mean it has to end that way, and in my opinion, this Dallas team is certainly better than last years. First off, they have claimed Elton Brand off of waivers from newly revamped Philadelphia. His veteran presence behind former MVP Dirk Nowitzki is a welcoming sight. He had a pretty solid season last season, with around 11 points, and 7 or so rebounds per game (ESPN), having that either along side of the seven footer, or coming off the bench is easily a great thing. The next good thing for Dallas is signing free-agent shooting guard O.J. Mayo. Make no mistake, this is my favorite signing by them. I have always been a little admittedly high on Mayo; I feel he is a good player with a ceiling that as of this moment is unreached. He can shoot from anywhere, and has ice water running in his veins. Moving right along, they’ve resigned the veteran guard Delonte West. I think he’s a great signing, especially because of what he’s done in the past for this team. I feel that West is a better shooting guard, and is better in the two spot. Make no mistake, Cuban must know what he’s doing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to make a move to grab a true point. They have four point guard’s on their roster at the moment.

Moving along now, they signed their draft picks, and still maintain a solid starting line-up. Starting at point guard is Darron Collison, formerly of Indianapolis, he is a credible point guard, and I don’t disagree with Indy’s move by trading him because Augustin is better but having Collison start at point for Dallas is a good move. They also received Dahntay Jones from that trade for Collison, he’ll be an all right back up, should play descent minutes. Starting at center is Chris Kaman. Spending the majority of his career playing for the, at the time lowly Clippers, has certainly made a name for himself. He’s a hard player and will play quality minutes at all times. He may not be an all-star, but he’s an NBA quality player. Professionalism or bust.

Dirk Nowitzki is starting at the four, and what more can be said about him that’s not been said? He’s a seven footer who can hit the three, has the most ridiculous fade-away I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, when he shoots it, and when it inevitably goes in, I just want to cry. It’s so pretty.)

Starting at the three, Shawn “Matrix” Marion. While possessing the ugliest shot I have ever seen (not that I have a whole lot of room to talk), he is easily the teams best defender. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Durant’s game winner that rimmed in against them last season, and I dare you to tell me you can defend against that better than he did. And if you do tell me that, you’re either being sarcastic or you’re delusional.

The biggest issue with Dallas is the depth. I don’t feel too confident about their bench, although I feel like Mayo will be a solid number two shooting option. He’s going to have to take Terry’s spot as clutch. Does Dallas make the playoffs? Absolutely. Do they go far? Depends on the match-ups at the time. In a seven game series, it’s all about match-ups. I’d say a first round bow out is certainly possible. Either way, we’ll see you in the post-season Dallas.

Houston Rockets:

Yeah.. Houston. What’s there to say? Revamped, for better or for worse, Houston is a new look team. First, the team traded for Gary Forbes and a first round draft pick. Next they got hold of the monster himself, Jeremy Lin in a back-loaded deal that stole him away from the Knicks. Moving right along, they managed to receive three players. Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and a few draft picks. Really, this trade isn’t as big in my opinion, I feel Douglas is the only important piece there, but I could be wrong. Nope, not finished yet, the Rockets traded away quality player Courtney Lee to Boston for JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams. Again, this trade doesn’t really do a whole lot. It’s all about salary cap clearing. Going to attempt to make a run at some big name players at some point. I don’t have an issue with that.

I think it’s safe to say Houston is rebuilding, they have plenty of draft picks, not-fully guaranteed contracts with room to make more cap space because of it While they won’t be in the playoffs, they’ll be in a good position to compete years down the road provided the picks are used well, either in trade or in the actual draft or in draft trades.

Memphis Grizzlies:

Okay Memphis, it’s time to see if you can recapture that magic that allowed you to become one of (at the time eight but now) nine teams to upset a one seed as an eight seed. (Yeah, I’m aware there is more behind that, match-ups my friends). Anyway, I’ll start with two sad things: The Grizzlies no longer possess my favorite Grizz in O.J. Mayo. Granted, they’re not really missing him considering he lost his spot in the starting line-up anyway, and he slowly played less and less, due to play and attitude. Next, we’re moving onto the final sad thing: Darrel Arthur has broken his leg and will be out up to six weeks. I suppose that’s not too surprising, considering he’s quite injury prone the past season and it looks like this one won’t be an exception unfortunately. That’s enough of that though.

I like the Memphis Grizzlies. When healthy, this team is a ton of fun to watch. They have a clutch player (although often injured) in former Husky Rudy Gay, but he still needs to improve to be a superstar that I’m sure he wants to be. Moving on, they have Mike Conley starting at the point. He’s made quite the name for himself over the past few years, and yet in my opinion, he’s still a bit underrated. He can score big, hit the three, and give an assist or so when needed. I feel he needs to transition a bit more from a scoring point to a traditional point. I just feel like by becoming a better passer, more opportunities will show up for his teammates. Starting at the two guard spot is fan favorite and ex-NBA champion in Tony Allen. He made a name for himself in Boston several years ago with his magical defense, and his high flying ability. He’s not regressed at all here in Memphis, and he’s still playing quite strong. Make no mistake, Allen at age 30 can still ball, and he’ll throw it down on you given the chance. I admit, his numbers are a little low from last season, but there are upsides if you look for them.

Starting at the four spot is Zach Randolph. We all know about how good Z-Bo is, the question is can he bring it back this season? Last season, he only played in 28 total games allowing for his fellow teammate at the five spot, Marc Gasol to excel in his absence. Don’t get me wrong, this team absolutely needs improved play from not only Rudy Gay, but from big Z-Bo as well.

The biggest improvement on this team is Marc Gasol and his exhilarating play from last season, into this years amazing Olympic run. Grizz fans need to jump on this bandwagon for Gasol, because he’s moved out of his brother’s shadow.

There are two things that worry me about the Grizzlies unfortunately, and the first one is health. Of the teams three All-Stars, two are injury inept, leaving Gasol to carry the load in the paint. Gasol’s good, but not “carry my team through the Western Conference” good. There are probably only three players in the league that can do that. Anyway, if this team stays healthy and its stars shine bright, why couldn’t they do well? Especially if match-ups get in their favor, they could gain a birth to the Western Conference Finals, unless the second thing I’m worried about is true.

That second thing I’m talking about is their bench. The Grizzlies really don’t have much of a bench now, and I’m still stuck on that “bench’s win championships” thing I guess. I don’t feel like anyone on this bench is going to come out, night after night, and excel in the league. Some of their bench, is kind of young, and I feel like Pondexter could improve given plenty of minutes to do so. Maybe a bit of mentoring from All-Star Rudy Gay would help.

Anyway, we’ll be seeing Memphis in the playoffs unless their key players end up injured. This division isn’t as tough as it used to be, so that certainly helps. The Mavs/Spurs will more than likely win it, I feel like they’ve improved where as Memphis has stood still. A big trade early-mid season could easily change that though, so I probably wouldn’t hold much stock into that last sentence. Like I said before, match-ups. If Memphis is in the right place at the right time, why not Western Conference Finals if they’re healthy? Maybe the big guns will beat themselves up enough that they’re ripe for the picking against the Grizz. A lot of if’s, and maybe’s, I will say the Grizzlies will be in the post-season, so we’ll see you then.

New Orleans Hornets:

The city that CP3 once captured the hearts of, New Orleans rests on the shoulders of strong draft pick Anthony Davis. A bit overrated from the cynic’s standpoint (mine), asking this rookie to carry this team is a bit of stretch. Or is it? We have seen rookie’s come into this league and carry a team before, why not Davis? I don’t have a good reason for you, and thinking about it I don’t feel strongly about my overrated statement, I do think it’s a bit to ask to place him already in the top 75 players of the league without ever playing a single minute of NBA basketball. I don’t envy his position. He has a ridiculous wing-span, but he’s playing the toughest position in the league at the five spot. Things won’t be easy for him, but if he gets the hang of it as quickly as he’s grasped everything else, uh oh to the entire league. He’ll be a force irregardless, just a matter of today or tomorrow. That’s enough about Davis though.

Austin Rivers, you’re up. Rivers, I’m not sure what I think about you. Watching you at Duke (the whole, what, four games you actually played?) was a treat. You were special, could score inside at will and had that clutch gene that I like to see. The issue is you need to be on the court to improve and the NBA season is a heck of a lot longer than the college season (more so the college season that he played) so hopefully he’s working on his injury prevention. Honestly, that’s all I’m worried about when it comes to Rivers.

Now let’s get to the rest of the Hornets: the first thing is the Hornets (wisely) matched the offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns for guard Eric Gordon. Gordon’s good and can spark for a big offensive night any time. Ryan “Birdman” Anderson, wait a minute, he’s not the Birdman. He’s a former Orlando Magic, who played quality minutes and puts up solid numbers. Nothing wrong with that (except, you know, he doesn’t have a mohawk). They received two quality ex-Phoenix Sun players in Robin Lopez and in Hakim Warrick. Lopez was often injured and is often over looked (maybe for good reason), but when healthy he can at least put up some quality rebounding numbers on a team that needs it so desperately. Warrick pretty much provides the same thing, and I’ve thought he’s steadily improved. Starting at the point guard position is Greivis Vasquez. I’ll be honest, that’s not a name that comes up every day in conversations for me. He averaged around 25 minutes a game last season, and that should stay around the same for this season as well. So his numbers are a bit lacking due to lacking of the minutes. Upon looking at them, around eight points per game, five assists or so is quality numbers for a 25 minute a game player. Rivers will obviously split the minutes with him the log jam at point guard. The last of the starters is Aminu, who is quietly making a name for himself. He’s a player who will get more minutes and now is playing along side a group of young talented players like himself. That’s something to get excited about.

Now onto the post-season or rather, the Hornet’s lack there of. I could easily be proved wrong if Davis plays like everyone claims he’s going too. And the team clicks. The Hornets bench seems to have some depth in it, and that’s a great sign. Everyone by now knows how I feel, so maybe this team could overachieve and end up in the playoffs much like a Phoenix Suns team did a few years ago. Do I think it’ll happen? No, but I would have said that about that years Suns as well. Also, I’m not saying they’ll make the Western Conference Finals, but the playoffs for a team that the NBA controlled for a bit, and that New Orleans fans thought dead? What an amazing feat it would be to see them back in relevancy after losing CP3. At this moment, I’d say no, this team won’t make it. But it’s really a fifty fifty. I think.. I hope.. I don’t know. No. I know. Sigh. Good luck Hornets.

San Antonio Spurs:

The easiest thing to point out about San Antonio is that honestly this is pretty much the exact same team as it was last season. Really all they’ve done is resign two of their players (Tim Duncan and Patty Mills). So, if you’re a Spurs fan, that’s not too disappointing. This team steamrolled through the West and lost in the conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They transformed their identity from half-court or bust to run and gun with a heavily improved Tony Parker controlling the team instead of playing through Duncan. I think that’s a great move and they probably have the best coach in the game in Gregg Popovich. He has done a great job with this team each season, and while I don’t blame him for the playoffs, you can say the coach shares some of the responsibility. I think it lies more in being out coached when it comes to OKC, and we’ll get to that what I get to OKC next week, but really it’s hard to knock the Spurs.

So, same team right? I expect the same results that I normally expect from the Spurs. Ginobili to flop around the court (that should get him fined now, we’ll see), hit some big shots, make that amazing signature behind-the-back lay up I love so much, get injured and rinse/repeat. I may not like Ginobili, but when he’s on offense, he’s amazing to watch. I expect Duncan to play how he always does, and to talk super intelligently as usual. And I expect the Frenchmen Tony Parker to absolutely control this team and march into the playoffs. How they’ll do once they get there relies on the play of their bench, their point and Popovich’s ability to coach them through thick and thin.

To say they’re a top three team is a bit of an understatement, but it’s the best I have. I could see them as the number one seed or I can see them as the number three season. Traditionally, the Spurs are not big worriers about their seed, they see that as something for us, the analysts, to talk about. We’ll see how much it really matters again this season. See you in the post-season Spurs.


For more reviews, check out the Southeast, Central, Atlantic, Pacific Division reviews by Curtis Dasch.

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About Curtis Dasch

Formally a "Jack-of-all-Trades" writer for The Farm Club, Curtis is now a resident of Jacksonville Beach, Florida. His current goal is to bring the flavors and scene of Jacksonville to everyone from locals, to "townies", to the entire state of Florida.

View all posts by Curtis Dasch


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2 Comments on “NBA League Preview: Southwest Division”

  1. Josh Sund Says:

    I think it’s almost a guarantee that Kevin Martin is traded from the Rockets before the deadline. They really aren’t in good position, cap wise, with two huge backloaded contracts in Lin and Asek, but at least they have long term starters at the 1 and 5. Lin is the obvious X-Factor, as no one is sure what their going to get, but I think Asek is going to do well with more minutes. Don’t forget about Patterson either, he guaranteed winning the MIP award.



  1. NBA League Preview: Northwest Division | - October 10, 2012

    […] out Curtis’ previews of the Southwest, Pacific, Central, Southeast, and Atlantic Divisions. Rate this:Share […]

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